Image courtesy of The Telegraph.

People get dental fillings for a multitude of reasons -- cavities, a small hole in the tooth, and tooth discoloration are only a few. A dentist removes the decay from a tooth then fills the space with a different material, like gold or porcelain. Immediately after a filling, you might not feel anything due to the numbing agent. 

However, once that wears off, be aware that some pain, discomfort, and sensitivity is normal after you get a filling. Those feelings should go away within a few days. If they don’t, that’s when you might have a problem. In this article, we’ll talk about:

  • What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
  • Identifying and Treating the Problems

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?

Immediately following the procedure, you might not feel anything at all because of the numbing agent used. However, once that wears off, you will probably start to experience moderate sensitivity. There are a few things that might trigger this sensitivity, such as:

  • Cold foods and drinks, like ice cream
  • Hot drinks, like coffee
  • Acidic foods and drinks, like juice
  • Sugary foods, like candy
From left to right, three animated teeth think sour, too cold, and hot!
Certain foods and drinks might trigger an uncomfortable sensation. Take note of these triggers and try to avoid them as much as possible. Image courtesy of College Plaza Dental.

One way you can reduce tooth sensitivity is to use a desensitizing toothpaste. While the toothpaste does not work immediately after the first use, continual brushing with it can ensure results. When brushing, do so gently. Harsh scrubbing won’t help your teeth feel better.

Flossing regularly, not using whitening products, and rinsing your mouth out after eating acidic foods are other ways to help reduce sensitivity. Oral hygiene routines are essential for strong, healthy teeth.

Identifying and Treating the Problems

Like previously stated, symptoms of discomfort, sensitivity, and pain should go away within a few days to a week. If they don’t, there might be a bigger problem at hand. Let’s take a look at why you might still be experiencing pain and/or sensitivity.

Incorrect Bite Alignment

Sometimes, a filling isn’t positioned as properly as it should be and thus can interfere with your bite. If it’s too high, it can cause a malocclusion, which can cause pain when you bite down. The extra pressure from the misaligned filling is the cause of this pain.

To fix this issue, your dentist will smooth down the filling so it lines up properly with your other teeth. Then, you should be back to normal. 

Four teeth models each show different overbites/teeth positions.
Extra pressure on the filled tooth can cause you pain, especially when eating. Image courtesy of Dr. Greg Wych.


Pulpitis is the inflammation of the pulp tissue that forms the center of your teeth. Normally, pulpitis is not a result of a minor filling. A few symptoms of pulpitis are swelled gums, pain when eating, and a pocket of pus near your tooth.

There are two types of pulpitis:

  • Reversible Pulpitis → a mild inflammation from which the tooth can heal on its own.
  • Irreversible Pulpitis → an inflammation that is so severe that nerves can be damaged, or can even start to die. 

Antibiotics can be used to clear the bacterial infection of reversible pulpitis. To fix the irreversible pulpitis, you will most likely need a root canal. In a dire case, you may even have to have the tooth extracted.

Allergic Reaction to Tooth Fillings

Sometimes, you might not know you’re allergic to a certain material, such as silver. If your dentist uses silver amalgam as the filling agent, you might experience an allergic reaction. Symptoms include itchiness and/or a rash. Talk to your dentist if you think you’re experiencing an allergic reaction.  

The best way to avoid this is to inform your dentist of any allergies you may or may not have before your procedure.

A woman in a dentist's chair holds her face and looks at a dentist with his back to the camera.s
If tooth sensitivity does not go away within 2 to 4 weeks, you should get in touch with your dentist. Image courtesy of Savina Clinic.

Multiple Tooth Surfaces

If you get a silver amalgam filling on the tooth above or below a tooth that has, for example, a gold cap, you might experience some sensitivity. There isn’t much your dentist can do, but they can try to find a material that won’t be as irritative to your pre-existing cap.

If you’re experiencing pain, discomfort, and/or sensitivity after a filling, you may have a problem on your hands. There’s no need to worry, though! Elizabeth Wakim, DDS, and staff are dental professionals who can help you feel your best again.